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Achieving a Multicultural Approach to Education in the Philippine Setting

multiculturaleducation1-150316022436-conversion-gate01-thumbnail-3I often argue that there is no such thing as multicultural education in the Philippines as in almost every classroom, there is homogeneity; one culture, one language and one color. With this belief comes the affirmation that there is no pressing need to adopt a multicultural approach to education in the Philippines. However, after reading Ford’s paper that argues that multicultural education is not only for heterogeneous groups as homogenous groups are more vulnerable to undermine other cultures because of ignorance; I strongly suggest the need for our education system to adopt a multicultural approach to education. To prove the need for this, let us take into account one incident displayed by Filipinos during the FIBA Quarterfinal Games held in the Philippines. Gilas Pilipinas competed with New Zealand National Team. During the pre-game ceremony, the New Zealand Basketball Team performed the Haka Dance… the venue was filled with a resounding jeer from the Filipino fans. I believe this incident is not because they are our opponents during the tourney but more so we do not understand their culture. This incident should have not occurred if we have a multicultural approach to education despite being a homogenous society.
Last 2013, the Department of Education released Republic Act 10533 otherwise known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013. This document directs all concerned in the implementation of the Basic Education Curriculum particularly the teachers to contextualize and localize the delivery of instruction. In contextualization and localization teachers must use materials, events, stories and whatever is utilized in the delivery of instruction something which students are familiar with.
In order to achieve multicultural education, I strongly support the idea of contextualization and localization as it provides proper and better understanding of one’s culture that leads to learning. However, there is a need for teachers to move one notch higher by providing our learners with global perspectives and introducing to them the culture and traditions of other nations thus eliminating ignorance.

The Global Teacher

globalteacherThe article of Bank’s challenges every teacher to acquire global perspectives while maintaining a good grasps of the local culture, traditions, victories as well as problems that beset both the micro and macro societies. He argues that one cannot fully understand the culture, race and social background more so accepting them without first understanding and accepting one’s own contextual experience. As the school becomes the privileged place to address issues that affect global citizenship such as social justice and mutual recognition and respect for diversity of culture and traditions; teachers should be able to learn and unlearn practices that defeat the purpose of global citizenship.

In this respect, teachers must first learn to unlearn practices such as focusing exceedingly on localization and contextualization of learning materials, learning processes and evaluations to the detriment of providing students with global perspectives in life. He must learn to be updated with the latest global trends in preparing learning materials, psychology of learning and administering appropriate evaluations. He must learn to provide students with learning experiences that will enhance one’s ability to be flexible, creative, proactive, solve problems, make decisions, think critically, communicate ideas effectively and work well within teams and groups. These skills cannot be acquired by our students if we stick to outdated delivery of lesson, preparation of learning materials and methods of evaluations. Second, teachers must learn to unlearn that global citizenship is a dangerous ideology for it espouses global advancements without giving appropriate recognition to identity of individual nations and cultures. As a matter of fact, global citizenship emboldens national identity by challenging it to co-exist interdependently with other nation-identities without losing one’s culture in the process of co-existence. Third, teachers must unlearn his archaic role of providing knowledge to the learners and learn to understand that his function is to offer assistance to students to become global citizens who will be responsible for the fate of the world.

Classroom Favoritism

favoritismFilipino classroom may not be as diverse as the classrooms that can be found in the West such as the United States, Canada and Europe; but the difference in terms of socio-economic profile, hygiene, sexual orientation existing in our classroom also warrant that we eliminate all forms of color blind practices.

Color blind ideology may be defined as refusing to recognize inherent differences that our students bring with them inside the classroom either by shutting one’s eyes as if not noticing it or deciding to allow it to be at play without any effort to break it.

In some classrooms here and even abroad, favoritism is at play. If you are intelligent, if you are a child of a co-teacher or someone in the higher echelon of the department, if you contribute fairly well to all fund-raising activities of the school and if you are well-groomed; chances are; teachers will look at you differently. This difference in treating students can affect one’s academic achievement in life as students looked at their teachers as leaders and even parents.

Favoritism may be a far description of color blind practices but it reinforces color blind ideology among teachers by giving special attention to students who can perform better compared with the rest of the class and shutting one’s eyes to the needs of the “minority” which in actuality is the majority of the class. It is similar to shutting one’s eyes to the struggles of the colored people in the United States, Canada and in Europe.

Although, there may be fewer teachers who play the favorite student inside the classroom; the presence of such is a clear indication that we have not fully shun practices that alienates some members of the classroom. The challenge, therefore, is to eliminate all practices and traditions that contribute to unequal opportunities for students to succeed in life.

The Poor Filipino

poorfilipinosMuch has been said about Filipinos being poor. They have been the subjects of innumerable documentary presentations in almost all news agencies in the Philippines and even international media. Their communities have been laboratories of learning as if they are “lab rats” assisting us in awakening and clarifying our value-system and hopefully igniting in us the flame of fervor to assist them to improve their lives or at the very least help them accept the fact that they are POOR. It is as if their lives are meant to drive in us the willingness to help them, to perform charitable acts on their behalf. The article even contends that the poor can be our salvation, can be the agent of national liberation and subsequently national identity. (Rafael, 2015)

How can the poor be our salvation? How can they become an agent of national liberation and national identity; when their very existence is unwanted (Human Rights Watch, 2015, Scerri, 2015) when their existence is reduced to “objects” of study and when their very existence has prompted us to raise our fences, to buy guard dogs, to hire bodyguards, to keep our money in banks and to secure our houses with CCTVs.  Although we are a nation of poor people, we barely understand what is meant to be a poor Filipino in a society where their very existence is seen as a problem to be solved rather than opportunities to unite us as one nation.

Considering all these, it is a no-brainer topic why all our politicians during election time claim that they are pro-poor along with different institutions such as our Churches, our schools, our companies. We do not understand the plight of the poor that we tend to offer temporary assistance to them in the form of dole-outs, of unsustainable feeding program and other projects with little influence to their lives. The poor is definitely in a disadvantageous position in this country and many take advantage of their situation to promote individual gains. Perhaps even this simple reflection is a form of exploiting the poor.